HOT TUB TIME MACHINE 2 REVIEW

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I’d rather have had a shotgun to the d**k than endure this again . . .

That’s what I thought I was going to say.

“What is it? It’s like it’s some kind of . . . hot tub time machine”. Cue the cheeky look at the camera from Craig Robinson.

I literally watched the first installment hours before viewing this. My friends couldn’t believe I hadn’t seen it. For all the hype, I expected more.

It wasn’t bad. It was nowhere as stupid as I thought it would be. BUT it got me laughing and for the right reasons. Something I haven’t been able to say for some time.

And now a sequel. Five years later and no Cusack, was it even needed? Did it manage to entertain or did we have a mindless re-tread of the same old thing but just not as good?

Well, we did have a re-tread of the same old thing but it still just about did the job.

When Lou (Rob Corddry) finds himself in trouble, Nick (Craig Robinson) and Jacob (Clark Duke) fire up the hot tub time machine in an attempt to get back to the past. But they inadvertently land in the future with Adam Jr (Adam Scott). Now they have to alter the future in order to save the past – which is really the present.

It never felt like we left them. Lou is reaping the benefits of changing the future by owning Lougle (Not Google) and the word, Um.

Um . . . You owe me money!

Nick is still having problems with his wife, Courtney. Yeah, that annoyed me the first time round but hey at least he’s a music mogul. Delivering hit after stolen hit. I gotta feeling. “Wait a minute. I think I got a song coming”.

While Jacob is wandering around a giant mansion, dressed as a butler and dealing with the fact that Lou is his father.

Corddry was everything you expected. Loud, in your face, mental and a little irritating to begin with. Just like the first one. I think that was kind of the point but he really did go on.  I prayed for something to happen to him.

Luckily, something did. For proper Hot Tub fans, the result was exactly what you’d expect. There was a lazy red herring sub plot going on in the background (Without spoiling too much) that was so boring and predictable. BUT it wasn’t long before the guys were back in the tub and causing more havoc.

I loved all the little in-jokes. You could say it was lazy but it worked. I would recommend you see the first one to understand some of the better gags. The massive squirrel statue might go over people’s heads.

As soon as the guys are getting wasted in the tub, it ticked all the boxes. The snappy one liners, the funny insults, the random mascot, Chevy!

Chevy is looking old. To be honest, his cameo was literally 30 seconds. I was hoping he would pop up throughout like the first one BUT with Jacob stocked up with the “Know How” (The “know how” being his encyclopedic knowledge of sci-fi movies), it did deem him a little unnecessary. It was still good to see ol’ Clark Griswald.

“Everything is always Terminator!” The endless sci-fi movie references to explain the timey wimey guff definitely played up my nerd side; Fringe, Looper, Back to the Future. That definitely got a titter or two out of me. “Nerrd, nerrrd and no one likes you”.

Sorry! Robinson and Corddry’s improvised nerd song every time Jacob discussed some plot exposition is a joke I know I’ll be using on my mates for the foreseeable future.

The film constantly toys with the appearance of Cusack. But I will warn you now, there is definitely NO John Cusack. His non-appearance and the constant promise of his return was as disappointing as Charlie Sheen’s no show in the Two and a Half Men finale.

I was disappointed that Cusack wasn’t in it for at least a blink and you’ll miss it cameo. I didn’t think his character was that funny but he seemed to be the anchor that weighed down this drug induced voyage from going out and out bonkers! I also expected Crispin Glover to appear with some hand related shenanigans. NO! Nadda not a zip!

Gillian Jacobs (another Community regular after Griswald) was pretty . . . good. What? She played Adam Jr’s ditsy fiance well and delivered the finest movie title reference punch line EVER! No SPOILERS but bravo!

It was a bit hokey and incredibly lazy in how they roped Adam’s son into the mix but luckily there was enough rapid one liners and shenanigans to take your attention off it.

Adam Scott managed to make his bland character a lot funnier and memorable than I expected. His taste of a new superdrug and his “God like” abilities were ludicrous, stupid but funny as hell.

The future backdrop was ripe for opportunities. The problem is they seem to go for the predictable ones. The drugs, the booze, the birds. Still funny to watch but it felt a little too much like the first.

A virtual simulation challenge in a demented reality TV show called ‘Choozy Doozy’ (a show in which the audience sets a challenge and the celebrity must do it) managed to out-gross a certain bathroom bet scene in Hot Tub. Oh yeah, that’s right. If you don’t know what I mean, good luck. Disgusting but so funny!

Hot Tub 2 cranks it up to 11. For some, it will be a breath of fresh air. For others, they’ll pull a face like they’ve just discovered a foul smell.

BUT the guys still kept it watchable. The endless “You look like . . .” gags shouldn’t have worked but they did. “You like Gandalf the poor!”, “You like you should be advising Lando Clarissian”.

The banter was on point. Lou and Jacob’s constant put downs of Nick’s future hit, “The Webber Strutt” comparing his dance moves to dick picking from a tree got a snort from this nerd.

The whole futuristic auto-piloted Smart Cars that fed off people’s emotions was an interesting concept. The thought of a car taking a hit out on Lou was funny to start with but it never really went anywhere. And then you realise, hang on. Lou is trying to be killed by a car. What?!

The last 20 minutes or so did go on. It got a whole lot crazier, a whole lot sillier (Adam Jr’s balls swell up from a sustained superdrug overdose. Cue a syringe, swearing and lots of liquid. YUCK!) and REPETITIVE.

It fizzed out and ended so ridiculously corny by the end. Lou coming to accept that he is a terrible husband, father, etc. Boo hoo. Cue an inevitable father/son confrontation with Jacob. It’s all so hammy. Look, I know the time travelling concept was always THE joke but the plot holes were just terrible.

It was reprieved slightly by an unexpected ending (that definitely hints at another) and a credit sequence that matched 22 Jump Street in bonkersville!

It doesn’t deserve the low rating it received on IMDb. It’s big, dumb, rude and stupid. BUT it delivered the laughs and killed the time. NOT perfect by any means BUT if you’re up for a laugh, it ain’t half bad.

2.5/5

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A LITTLE CHAOS REVIEW

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Sorry, Mr Rickman. Your debut needed a little more chaos. A stellar cast fails to hide what is a dreadfully slow and meandering affair.

10 points from Slytherin!

Two talented landscape artists become romantically entangled while building a garden in King Louis XIV’s palace at Versailles.

I really wanted to like this but I was left wanting more by the time the credits rolled.

Period pieces are not my strong suit. But that’s not to say, I don’t enjoy them. I didn’t mind Downton Abbey (when it first came out). Remains of the Day and Sense and Sensibility (featuring Ms Winslet and Mr Rickman) were simply brilliant.

It made sense that Rickman would invest his directorial debut in a periodic love story. It’s just a shame that beneath its beautifully shot surface, there wasn’t much going on.

The rather bizarre opening didn’t really get things going or set the tone properly. It felt like something out of Blackadder. Louis’ youngest son announcing that he had soiled himself. A mistress ready to tear off her clothes to please her king in front of the children. No joke. This happened.

It took a little while to get to the point. The point being Louis’s eccentric behaviour. He cues his own family members for applause after every little soliloquy. His speech about finding Heaven in a garden was well done if a little pretentious. His defense being that the Garden of Eden was where it all began for humanity.

I can remember from my old History lessons on the extravagance and financial ruin that Louis XIV went through to achieve this perfection. I expected to see this issue looked at or maybe even confronted. BUT tragically not. All we have is a couple of stiff upper lipped lords simply quibble that the King is spending beyond his means. That’s it.

Kate Winslet was very good and certainly carried the film. A strong leading woman if ever there was one.

A self-made woman renowned for her unique gardening designs and passion for chaos. We are fed little tidbits of her past. Figures running in the background, children laughing. Flickering images in dreams that soon get really annoying as the film continues to meander along. The supernatural element had my interest piqued.

Matthias Schoenaerts keeps popping up in films lately. With Far From The Madding Crowd due at your local cinema shortly, I’m getting fed up of seeing him but with performances like this, I can see why he keeps stealing all the parts.

Charismatic yet moody with a mysterious demeanour. He even has a little sing song!

His character, Andre Le Notre is a meticulous and stubborn garden designer renowned across France. It’s not long before he clashes with Winslet’s strong willed madame. His order and perfection disrupted by her random chaotic selection. Inevitably sparks fly.

The pair have good chemistry and certainly played the parts well. BUT in between the inevitable romance plot, there isn’t much else on offer. Merely moments.

Helen McCrory has been a favourite of mine for some time. Her turn in Peaky Blinders being a particular highlight. She played the manipulative house wife to perfection. Scowling and nasty one moment. Sleeping around with any man she can to bait a reaction from Notre’s frustrated gardener. Vulnerable and regretful the next.

I wanted a little more stoke thrown into the fire between her and Schoenaerts. Their fractious relationship had potential. The marriage merely a business arrangement.

Her jealousy of his brewing relationship with Winslet’s Sabine could have been so much more. It soon builds up to a tense sabotage attempt. However, the post-confrontation was well done but a little anti-climactic. Schoenaerts merely shares some harsh truths and walks away. Alas.

Stanley Tucci was superb as the scene stealing Duc D’Orleans. He instantly made an impression and injected a much needed frenetic energy to the incredibly serious leads. Overtly camp and funny. Not enough of his character. He made more of an impact in five minutes than most of his counterparts.

It was understandable that Rickman would take a step back on the acting front by taking a smaller role but when he did appear, he was brilliant.

I really wanted to see more of the King and Sabine’s relationship.  A humourous introduction between Sabine and the King as she mistook him for a normal gardener was just what the doctor ordered. Winslet and Rickman were fantastic together and it made for engaging viewing.

Rupert Penry Jones made an memorable cameo poncing about and educating Winslet’s befuddled madame of the inner workings of the French society rings. However, once he disappears, you suddenly realise how unnecessary his character actually was. So much so that IMDb have decided not to give him an acting credit. Bizarre. A silly role for a talented actor.

The pace didn’t justify the means. It tested me at times. We finally discover why Sabine lives alone and is working in France in a dramatic five minute reveal BUT it just wasn’t enough.

There were good moments and the cast certainly delivered with their performances. Ellen Kuras’ cinematography was superb. The closing panning shot of the Versailles garden landscape was a feast for the eyes alone.

But with so many films out there, this felt like nothing more than a periodic love story of Ground Force. I feel this one will soon fade into the back of people’s memories quicker than it entered.

Shame.

2/5

PAUL BLART: MALL COP 2 REVIEW

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What a load of old cop!

Ba-dum-tsssh! If you thought that was bad, you won’t like this!

After six years of keeping our malls safe, Paul Blart (Kevin James) has earned a well-deserved vacation. He heads to Vegas with his teenage daughter (Raini Rodriguez) before she heads off to college. But safety never takes a holiday and when duty calls, Blart answers.

Back, definitely bigger but better?

In a word, NO! God, no! But it wasn’t all bad. Just . . . Not that good.

I’ve been a fan of Kevin James ever since King of Queens. His movies may not have earned critical plaudits but as long as they were funny, I didn’t care.

I finally got round to watching the first Paul Blart not too long ago. It was okay, I guess. James using his size to his advantage for some Die Hard buffoonery.

It was watchable but the biggest joke was the amount of money it took! For all the hype and recommendations, I was left scratching my head. It delivered the odd titter but it went far too long. Too long at 90 minutes? Ouch. Inevitably, with all that box office wonga, a sequel was on the cards.

Now bearing in mind, I wasn’t that keen on the first, I found that better than this instalment.

The slating PB: MC 2 (Looks like an equation) has received was a little overkill. I did laugh. A couple of times. BUT it tried to outdo the first one and made the same silly mistakes.

The opening ten minutes certainly didn’t get things going. It was a little dark and random. Two cast members from the original removed in a matter of seconds.

One with a truck. The other . . . Obviously read the script and didn’t want to come back. Let’s be honest, Jayma Mays. You weren’t that good the first time round.

BUT she still dodged a bullet. Some lazy plot writing about anxiety and demanding a divorce after a six day vomit inducing marriage or something or other.

Yeah. Stupid and not very funny. See where I’m going.

James’ OTT and deluded alter ego Blart did enough to preserve through the drudge. I can’t believe how big he’s got again! I thought he was shedding the pounds after Here Comes The Boom! Clearly, the film needed those infantile fat jokes. That popped up at every opportunity.

However, considering his size, I couldn’t believe how quick James was on his feet. A scene in which Blart raids a hotel room for clues was hilarious. Running up the steps, throwing himself around, getting back on his feet. Damn!

His buffoonery did get a few titters. But it was too much of the same thing. Tripping over the carpet in an epic hotel lobby punch up? Good. Continuing to trip over every object every 30 seconds afterwards? Boring.

There wasn’t much of a story. Not that I expected one. But a lazy convention invitation to get Blart for more Die Hard shenanigans in a Vegas hotel was naff.

It didn’t help that it was so predictable and schmaltzy. Rodriguez and James work well as a father/daughter unit but why did it have to be so revoltingly cheesy?

Maya (Rodriguez) falls for a valet in a hammy and uninteresting sub plot. In fact you can hardly call it a subplot as Bakay and James couldn’t be bothered to put any effort into it. She inevitably avoids her blundering control freak of a mall cop dad who is in the middle of having a mini breakdown after losing the love of his life . . . after six days. Bleurgh.

BUT that’s okay. She gets kidnapped . . . AGAIN! And it’s up to dear old dim-witted dad to save the day whether she wants him to or not!

It’s just a mess. The main problem for me was that I was trying to work out how bad this film was. Let me explain. Nick Bakay (Salem! Salem from Sabrina. I know. GAY!) and Kevin James are funny. Surely, the dialogue and story line were written badly on purpose?

You can see where James is ripping off the old clichéd action B-movies. His slow motion leap from a “fast moving” Segway got a chuckle out of me. BUT everything else just came off unintentionally bad. Boring and unfunny. It was as if they took all the bad bits out of the bad action movies to make something even worse. A comedy masterpiece or just bad?

Either way, it didn’t really work. I mean, come on. Robert Rodriguez knew what he was doing when he made Planet Terror. It was a deliberately awful Grindhouse flick. Blart, on the other hand . . . Meh.

The daughter getting kidnapped spiel didn’t work in Taken and certainly didn’t work in this. It had potential but never really got anywhere. The only redeeming feature was the fact she wasn’t a complete moron and did some clever MacGuyer stuff to try and escape.

The supporting cast were a little hit and miss.

Shelly Dusai was funny as Khan Mubi. Not enough of him to be honest. His impromptu hug and greets and inability to stay awake at even the most intense situations was a much needed comedy injection. I could have done with more of him than Gary Valentine or Loni Love.

Love was brilliant when she was first introduced into the mix but after that, she soon got on my nerves. Yelling out, “This is real” and “That’s not real” got very old very quick.

Neal McDonough was a cracking little villain. His different coloured eyes and deadpan delivery trounced the mall muppet that we had in the first one. But he wasn’t used to his full potential. He had keyed in his inner Hans Gruber and deserved more lines and screen time. Disappointed.

I mean, his mad shout off with James showed McDonough’s potential. “I’m so crazy, I have two different coloured eyes. I don’t know what I’ll do next”. It doesn’t sound so good out loud but his delivery made it work. However, the shouting soon went on too long. AGAIN.

D.B. Woodside should have stayed in Suits. Old Wayne Palmer was so bland and unmemorable. He was nothing more than a henchman.

Daniella Alonso. Mamma Mia! Steady now. She played the alluring hotel manager well. What? It was a little funny when Blart kept insisting that she was hitting on him. His endless put downs and talks got a chuckle. The punchline inevitably being that she actually was hitting on him made me smile a little. Blart’s realisation at the mistake of turning her down was up there with Harry and Lloyd giving directions to that tour bus of models.

I know James and Sandler have been slated for years. They don’t care. And to be honest, I’ve enjoyed quite a few of their efforts that have been rated incredibly low on IMDb but although this was watchable, it wasn’t memorable.

It was along the lines of Grown Ups 2. It had a couple of laughs but went on too long and you couldn’t wait for it to end. BUT there were still laughs to be had. If you like your comedy silly and OTT and you liked the first one (A lot of people will be saying No one), then give it a crack.

Blart getting in a punch-up with a peacock was hilarious. Its velociraptor-esque roar as it stalked the mall cop made it for me. That and the smiling pianist who offered no help and merely background music wasn’t bad. Looked like someone out of The Shining!

James knows how to ride a Segway. I had a crash course on one of those. No, literally I crashed onto the floor. To be able to do the silly little tricks he does was fun to watch.

Running into clean glass doors and sliding across hotel lobby floors were (Pardon the expression) hit and miss but they still got a little smile out of me.

BUT James’ farting, tripping and blundering did annoy more than entertain. His ridiculous speeches were the sort of thing I fast forward through a naff B flick.

The corny confrontations with Maya over moving away to college was so tedious and hammy. I really didn’t care. Oh and the final punch line, I say punch line was terrible. James chatting up a mounted policewoman could have had potential. BUT nah. Let’s just have a terrible CGI horse kick James’ terribly CGI’d body into a car. Shame. A missed opportunity.

If there is going to be another, take another 6 years on top of another 6 years and find some better material, Messrs James and Bakay.

2(Just)/5

WHILE WE*RE YOUNG REVIEW

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My exact thoughts as I waited for this indie dramedy to end.

Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts do their best but it just didn’t hit the mark for me.

The endless praise certainly piqued my interest. A shame that it just couldn’t deliver.

A middle-aged couple’s career and marriage are overturned when a disarming young couple enters their lives.

I feared the worst from the opening scene in which we have an extract from Ibsen’s The Master Builder.

A scene that commented on the ever-growing invasion and domination of youth. Slow and a little pretentious.

I could see what writer/director Noah Baumbach was trying to do with the film but I still couldn’t fight my disappointment.

We join Josh (Stiller) and Cornelia (Watts) as they battle being middle-aged while their friends are settling down and having babies.

The opening 15 minutes was easy going enough. Stiller and Watts had good chemistry. Their difficulty in dealing with a baby demonstrated the spanner in their supposedly well-oiled machine.

I didn’t mind sitting back and examining a normal relationship as Stiller and Watts confront their issues but I just wanted more.

Stiller can act and I have desperately prayed for a better project to come along.

While We’re Young may be a mixed bag but it showed what Stiller can do when he’s not running around museums or strutting down walkways (I can’t believe I’m saying this but I can’t wait for Zoolander 2)

Things took a slightly more interesting turn with the introduction of Adam Driver. Amanda Seyfried’s character barely made an impression.

A nothingy role. I think her only real contribution worth noting was when she took a confused Watts to a hip hop class.

Driver certainly got things moving. Pardon the irony. The problem was that I always had an inkling that his intentions were not what they seemed. Probing Stiller for information under the persona of a fan boy.

Playing to his ego with endless brown nosing and slick charm.

It was interesting in parts to witness this young couple transform this “old” couple. A catalyst that sparked the life back into their humdrum lifestyle.

The trilby hats, the gigs, the shoes with no socks fad. Spot on.

The whole battle and jealousy of youth debacle had its moments. The fact that youngsters like myself have a niche for all things retro and vintage was a valid observation.

Stiller’s culture clash with Driver and his hipsters about a 70s cartoon that he grew up with sparked an interesting debate.

Loving something just because it’s old. Not even knowing the story or the character.

I can’t really say this is a comedy. There were moments but the tone was a little uneven for me.

I don’t think Baumbach knew which direction to take the film. It went from painfully deadpan with Stiller uncovering a film conspiracy that challenged the very ethics of filmmaking to just plain bizarre.

Not enough consistency for me. The sequence in which Watts and Stiller join the youngsters for a weekend retreat to drink some liquid and vom up some “demons” while listening to Vangelis may sound funny but it was just weird.

Everyone standing around chatting while casually throwing up in their designated buckets just didn’t do it for me. Was Baumbach trying to throw in a gag that was more befitting of Stiller’s familiar humour?

Charles Grodin is getting old. Long are the days since Midnight Express. Hell even Harry and the Hendersons or Beethoven, shudder.

He played Josh’s father-in-law well. I just wish their fractious relationship was explored a little more. There were some good insights but I wanted more conflict and some sort of progress.

And that was the main issue for me in general. The film had likeable characters that I wanted to see more done with.

There was an interesting revelation with Cornelia in which she suffered a miscarriage. I wanted more time focused on that.

It wasn’t until the closing moments that it was really dealt with. I understand that in real life with an ordeal like that, a lot of people sweep it under the carpet or act like nothing happened.

But when you’re watching a drama, you want . . . a little drama!

The ending was abrupt and a little weak after things finally seem to come to a head. The closing shot was humorous. A perfect statement of what is happening with the youth of today. It just wasn’t that interesting.

Too long, too talky and not much going on.

Two stars for the two talented leads.

2.5/5

GET HARD REVIEW

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It’s going to be hard to say anything good about this one.

When millionaire James King (Will Ferrell) is jailed for fraud and bound for San Quentin, he turns to Darnell Lewis (Kevin Hart) to prep him to go behind bars.

Oh boy, what a mess!

It was never going to be a satirical masterpiece that tackled the issues of race and poverty. Come on. At best, it could have been something OTT, stupid but funny.

A lot of people dodged a bullet from the heavily flogged trailers but I thought, “You never know”. Won’t be saying that anytime soon.

I was a big fan of Ferrell and Hart (Notice I put was). The thought of them working together should have been comedy gold.

The premise was weak with nothing but lazy jibes about how the rich are destroying the country and naff stereotypes that have been done to death.

The racial jokes weren’t controversial but they weren’t clever either. Just went for any old area and milked it dry.

Not even the talented supporting cast made much of an impression. You know you’re onto a loser when T.I. is the only actor getting things going.

Alison Brie looked stunning. Oh my goodness. But she wasn’t funny at all. Effing and jeffing and playing a manipulative gold digger.

Don’t get me wrong. She played it as well as she could. BUT there were no laughs. A shame considering how funny we know she can be. Just look at Community and The LEGO movie. Gutted.

While Craig T Nelson just played a clichéd and uninteresting evil corporate businessman. I’m getting bored just writing about him.

John Mayer made a highly unfunny cameo. I mean, if his goal was to be a douche then bravo! But it wasn’t funny and his improvised song about Ferrell was juvenile. It didn’t help that the guy can’t act.

There were a few chuckles BUT every time that I did laugh, I then realized, “Wait. That wasn’t funny”. My anticipation getting the better of me.

My smile faded more and more as the film continued to pull every unfunny gag out of every orifice.

An impromptu teaching session at a gay hook-up spot was completely unnecessary and revolting.

“When life gives you dick, you make dick-ade” Haha. Ha- No!

Will Ferrell trying to sing songs to a penis probably sounded good on paper. BUT it was just uncomfortable viewing and not even in the guilty “I shouldn’t have laughed at that” sense.

The prosthetic penis popping up in the scene was even worse than the glory hole sequence in Unfinished Business.

When Ferrell and Hart were allowed to improvise, I was finally rewarded with what I expected in the first place!

They weren’t a bad pairing but their gags went on too long; an elongated prison sketch with Hart pretending to be three different “prison gang” members should have been a minute at a push NOT five.

Ferrell resorted to mindless swearing just to get a quick titter, “I’m going to punch you in the f**k!”.

To be honest if Ferrell hadn’t applied his delivery, I don’t think I would have laughed at all.

Hart’s role seemed a lot more straight faced. A change. It worked. Using the plot of Boyz in Da Hood as his prison cover was hilarious.

Some gags did work. Will Ferrell dressed as the lovechild of Lil’ Wayne and Tim Westwood was hilarious. Deluded to the max with an “El Mayo” emblem stamped on his head. His pose for a gang picture got a guilty smile from me.

King’s naivety in the whole fiasco could have got a lot more funnier moments out of it. Shame.

The gag in which he is forced to pick fights with people in the park was hilarious (To begin with) but the more fights he got into, the worse it got.

The endless height gags and watching Hart being used as a gym weight just bored me. Lazy.

BUT Hart being used as a prop to dispense off some unlikely foes, on the other hand. That was an unexpected sight that tickled me.

The last 20 minutes finally seemed to hit its stride and I found myself actually laughing. It was ridiculously OTT and stupid as hell but it was better than what I’d had to endure.

Ferrell and Hart fighting on a yacht was the most random thing I’d seen in some time. Ron Burgundy flailing around and dispensing foes with some strange Brazilian dance fight technique was brilliant.

The Wedding Ringer bitch slapping people and smashing them round the head with computer monitors was mental.

BUT the story was so flat, predictable and lazy that it killed any enjoyment I managed to muster out of it.

Not good enough boys.

Sloppy and unfunny for the majority of the time. If not for the two comedy actors, this wouldn’t have made the DVD bargain bin at my local corner shop.

2/5 at a push

THE WATER DIVINER REVIEW

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A simply divine debut from Russell Crowe.

Engaging, heartfelt and definitely one of the better films I’ve seen.

So what’s it about, mate? An Australian man (Russell Crowe) travels to Turkey after the Battle of Gallipoli to try and locate his three missing sons.

Not the best title for a movie. And I could hear a few people asking, “Why is it called that?”

Russell Crowe plays Connor, a farmer who has a gift for finding water.

Through a series of flashbacks, we delve into his background as he fights the bureaucracy and red tape to find his three missing sons who never returned from the horrors of Gallipoli.

An impressive debut from a talented actor. I had high hopes and the film certainly delivered the majority of them.

The cinematography was fantastic. Not bad for a directing debut if you can get Andrew (Lord of The Rings) Lesnie on board.

The beaches of Gallipoli and the Turkish mosques were captured beautifully.

The pace was perfect. I was engrossed and switched on for the 112 minute length. All helped by a great cast, great acting and a good story.

Jai Courtney added a sincerity to the role of Lt Colonel Cyril Hughes. It made for a refreshing change from the endless hard man roles he seems to do these days. It was good to see him actually act. Even with a bad moustache.

Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace/Oblivion) was very good. I may have a little screen crush on her but she played the vulnerable widow well.

There was good chemistry between her and Crowe which made their inevitable pairing a little more endearing and watchable.

Dan Wyllie was very good as the snobby bureaucrat that was Captain Charles Brindley. Forever a thorn in Connor’s side.

An all too familiar and painfully accurate representation of the British influence on the Ottoman Empire.

His rant about the significance of a soldier’s death really hit home.

Yilmaz Erdogan was superb as Major Hassan. I don’t know how much of the film was dramatized BUT I couldn’t believe how this man still wanted to help Connor after his treatment by the ANZAC soldiers.

His answer; “He was the only father who came looking”. Remarkable.

I could feel my loyalties divided as we watch Hassan see his country being torn apart. The figures about the loss of life on both sides were shocking.

Cem Yilmaz and Erdogan also made a memorable pairing as the Turkish captives. It was great to see them as fully rounded characters and not just as one dimensional representations of “The Enemy”.

Dylan Georgiades managed to do something that not a lot of child actors do and that is to not annoy the hell out of me. A charming performance.

In between Crowe’s challenging ordeal to honour a promise, we follow Kurylenko as she must fight against the binds of reputation and family. Defiant to accept her husband’s death by the community and ignoring the advances of her polygamous brother-in-law to re-marry.

To be honest, I would have been happy to see Kurylenko’s subplot fleshed out a little more but it certainly got the point across.

The battle sequences were hardly groundbreaking but they still captured the brutality of it all and made for some heartbreaking viewing.

Russell Crowe was (to be expected) fantastic. A charismatic lead that delivers yet again.

However, it’s not all perfect.

Isabel Lucas’ (Transformers) character was a little unnecessary. Apart from being the local prostitute staying in the hotel, she didn’t do much else or contribute anything to the story. A wasted character if I’m honest.

The flashbacks were key and added to the story. However, I found the heavy use of CGI spoiled a riveting sequence in which Connor saves his boys from a sandstorm.

Luckily, the endearing relationship between Crowe and the boys managed to reprieve the terrible special effects.

There was also a scene in which a secret rendezvous at a Turkish bath with Connor, Cemal and Major Hassan came off unintentionally comical. The celebratory song and dance number was a little too cheesy for my liking.

Some may also argue that Connor’s sixth sense is a little hammy and farfetched. There isn’t any explanation into how Connor can find water or why he has the recurring dream sequences in which he can see his son alive.

It’s not that sort of film and sometimes you just have to believe and hope. A parental instinct is a bond in itself that goes beyond explanation. I didn’t let that spoil the film for me. If anything, it added an extra depth.

As the film came to a close, there were some revelations along the way. However, I don’t want to tell you too much about the story. Some moments were predictable but they still hit home and made for a teary eyed finale.

It’s not without its imperfections BUT it surprised me that considering this film was a commemoration of a battle 100 years ago, relationships between Greece and Turkey are still rocky as hell.

I would certainly recommend you take the time to invest in this story of one man’s promise to bring his boys home.

A riveting, heart-breaking and promising debut.

Bravo, Mr. Crowe.

3.5/5

SEVENTH SON REVIEW

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Not as you bad as you think. Or just as bad depending on your outlook.

Okay, it’s not great. BUT . . .

It killed the time, zipped along, didn’t mess about and knew exactly what it was. A big, dumb, action packed supernatural blockbuster.

Seventh Son is very much in the same vein as Van Helsing and Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. Ridiculously stupid but entertaining at least.

So what’s this one about? Young Thomas (Ben Barnes) is apprenticed to the local Spook (Jeff Bridges) to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin (Julianne Moore) escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.

From the OTT opening music score, I instantly thought of the classic monster movies.

Not long before you’ve sat down in your seats, you’re soon jumping out of them as an imprisoned dragon breaks free to unleash mayhem.

Smaug got nothing on this one. However, the dragon soon transforms into a vamped up femme fatale. In the form of Julianne Moore.

Moore went completely against type and proved she can play the seductive vamp role well. (What?)

She camped it up and stole every scene. You could tell she was having fun.

BUT Jeff Bridges? Face palm. What on Earth is he playing at?

The reunion of The Dude and Maude Lebowski may have excited the movie nerd in me BUT it’s just a shame that Bridge’s character was so terrible.

He just about pulled off the no-nonsense embittered mentor with a terrible accent in RIPD. But he should have known not to pull the same trick twice.

I had no idea what accent he was trying to do. It was hysterical for all the wrong reasons. Half the time, I couldn’t understand him. The other half I couldn’t care.

Ben Barnes (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) was quite a charismatic lead. Even if his character was a little bland.

Luckily the chemistry he had with Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina) sparked a bit more life into him.

There wasn’t enough of Vikander. And no! Not because I have a little crush on her. I felt that with Barnes, they made a good couple. Barnes and Bridges, on the other hand? No.

She was feisty and not too shabby to look at either 😉

The special effects were actually pretty good. Unfortunately, I saw the 2D version. A decision I instantly regretted. You could pick out several moments that would have been great to see in 3D.

The plot was pretty naff and full of plot holes. I could jot down the amount of questions; Why the seventh of the seventh son? What was the purpose of John DeSantis’ (The 13th Warrior) Tusk? Why did he have tusks? Why was he indebted to the Spook? How did he keep popping up when the Spook hadn’t told him where they were?

Little niggles, you know.

I wasn’t bored and certainly couldn’t knock Seventh Son for pace. It zipped along, and if I’m honest, a little too rapidly. The story was always going to the same old predictable guff. Young man sent on a quest and enduring love, loss and blah, blah, blah but they could have allowed a little more time on certain characters.

Most notably, Olivia Williams’ Mam Ward. Her forced mother/son relationship could have been a little more meaningful and interesting if they had allowed a revelation to develop. BUT instead, they focus on the monsters and the fight sequences.

Don’t get me wrong. Fun and violent they may be. It doesn’t help when you don’t really care about the characters. Mam Ward reveals something about her character halfway through the film that could have added something BUT instead she is pushed further into the background until she is no more.

A missed opportunity.

Kit Harrington. That’s right. Jon Snow. Had the easiest cameo going. I couldn’t believe he was in this. They must have grabbed him while filming Game of Thrones. His role was nothing more than a plot device to show how relentless Mother Malkin is.

Djimon Hounsou is reduced to nothing more than another angry servant. Pretty much the same character from Guardians of the Galaxy. Just an irate troll this time.

Also, why was everyone speaking with American accents? Especially when the majority of the cast were English or Dutch? But that’s just a continuity quip. Another niggle, that’s all.

It was hammy and OTT but gained points for fun.

It had the odd chuckle, zipped along and kept me quiet. However, a lot more points were lost for consistency, plot holes and direction.

The ending wrapped up far too quickly and was surprisingly open. With a faint hint of another?

I would be intrigued and if (A BIG IF) the gang were to return, they would need a lot of work. I enjoyed Van Helsing a lot more and we never got a sequel for that. So, don’t hold up your hopes.

This is definitely a teen fantasy epic if ever there was one. BUT we have had far too many. And even though they were flawed messes, they were still a little more memorable than this, I’m afraid.

BUT give it a go if you want a big silly creature feature to kill 90 minutes. BUT Jeff Bridges, come on man. You’re the Dude! Sort it out.

2.5/5